After the longest activation in its history, the Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) secured operations for Hurricane Matthew on October 9 at 0400 UTC. HWN Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV, reports the net was in continuous operation for 6 days, 7 hours, gathering real-time ground-truth weather data and passing it along to the National Hurricane Center (NHC) via the Center’s WX4NHC. Various Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) nets also activated along the Eastern Seaboard over the past week. The first major hurricane of the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season and, at one point, a Category 5 storm, Matthew has been downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone, as it’s poised to head out into the Atlantic.
As of 0900 UTC, Matthew was still generating strong winds over eastern North Carolina, as it moves to the east-northeast just off the Outer Banks. The NHC reported that record-breaking flooding continues over portions of eastern North Carolina. The storm was some 30 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, with maximum sustained winds of 75 MPH, moving east at 14 MPH. The Hurricane Warning from Little River Inlet to south of Cape Fear has been discontinued, and the Hurricane Warning from Cape Fear to Surf City has been replaced with a Tropical Storm Warning, the NHC said.
“Many have perished in Haiti and Cuba as a result of Matthew, and the death-toll rises still,” Graves noted. “Many residents in the Bahamas and the US East Coast states of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina have felt the impact of Matthew as well.”
Graves was appreciative of the Amateur Radio volunteers who took part in the HWN activation as well as of those who accommodated the net’s lengthy operation on 20 and 40 meters. “As always, having a clear frequency benefits our net control stations and [lets us copy] those in the affected areas,” he said. “It’s unfortunate we had to occupy these frequencies for an extended time, but, no two emergencies are alike. And Matthew was certainly unlike any storm anyone has ever seen before.”
As Hurricane Matthew pulls away from the US East Coast, the Voice over Internet Protocol SKYWARN/Hurricane Net (VoIPWX) attracted a number of visitors, according to net managers. “On board Saturday afternoon, in addition to WX4NHC at the National Hurricane Center, stations representing a number of Federal Emergency Management Agency regional offices and the National Response Coordination Center monitored the net for actionable intelligence to be used to plan recovery operations,” said net Public Affairs Officer Lloyd Colston, KC5FM. The net also activated on October 3 for Hurricane Matthew.
The net said its Georgia Reflector was linked to the WX-Talk conference, so net managers could help to relay relaying reports to local National Weather Service offices on NWSchat and the NHC.
According to Chief of Operations Dennis Dura, K2DCD, the net established a link up the East Coast into North Carolina and continued to monitor for damage assessment in areas the hurricane had already passed.
The Salvation Army Team Emergency Network (SATERN) on 14.265 MHz also was active for Matthew, handling outbound emergency, priority, or health-and-welfare traffic from hurricane-affected areas.
Matthew was the first Category 5 Hurricane to form in the Atlantic Basin since Hurricane Felix in 2007.